How my Out-of-control Cruise Count is Taking me to 13 Countries Next Year

Ok, this isn’t meant to be a “brag” post. Rather, it’s just an example of how my travel schedule sometimes gets a bit out of control, unintentionally. But, I’m gladly seizing every opportunity I have to travel.

Next year, I’m going on 5 cruises. Yes, five. For some seasoned cruisers, this is normal. But for me, it’s not. It’s a bit crazy. How did this happen?

The Pre-Planned Cruise

For the past few years, we’ve been planning to take a Disney Cruise over my son’s spring break during senior year. This upcoming spring break is that year. We’re booked on the Disney Wish, the newest ship, for a short 4-night cruise. For us, the cruise is entirely about the ship. Everyone in my family is looking forward to exploring the new restaurants and seeing new entertainment.

I’ve got our flights home booked on miles, but I’m still working on our flights to Orlando.

The European Cruise

When we started to plan a summer trip, we decided to visit Europe again. I’ve always wanted to see Greece, and the rest of my family has never been to Italy. So, we concluded that the easiest way to cover a lot of ground is to go on a cruise. We are booked on Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas leaving out of Rome with stops at Naples, Mykonos, Santorini and Ephesus (Turkey). We’re also tacking on a few nights in Athens and Venice.

This cruise is mostly about the ports, but it’s also a little about the ship. Odyssey of the Seas has a lot of bells and whistles my kids will love, including bumper cars and indoor skydiving.

I’ve booked our flights to and from Europe already with miles. This particular trip is a bit bittersweet, as it’s the last family vacation with all five of us before my son moves out-of-state for college.

Ruins in Ephesus, Turkey. Photo by Ulvi Safari on Unsplash

The Bonus Cruise

This past summer, we had such a good time on our Harmony of the Seas cruise with my sister. She invited me to join her on a port-intensive Southern Caribbean cruise with her next year. Even though I already had two cruises booked, she didn’t have to twist my arm much. We are sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas out of Puerto Rico. This cruise is entirely about the ports for us. The island I’m most looking forward to visiting on this cruise is St. Lucia.

I’m the only one from my family going, so the cost is minimal. I haven’t booked my flight yet, but of course I’m hoping to use miles and points.

St. Lucia Photo by Daniel Öberg on Unsplash

The Free Cruise

I’ve written about this one before (see this post). To recap: A few months ago, I received a casino offer for a free balcony room on a Carnival cruise. I received this offer because of status matching from Hyatt Explorist Status to MGM Gold status to Carnival Fun Match.

I admit, I’m a bit apprehensive about trying Carnival Cruise Line right now because of all of the recent on-board fights I’ve seen plastered all over social media. However, I’m excited to check out the brand-new Carnival Celebration and two new-to-us ports. I’ve already booked flights and hotel for this trip on miles and points.

Another Free Cruise?

Ok, I couldn’t help myself. After I booked the free balcony room on Carnival, I noticed that I still had the free inside room offer. I assumed it would disappear after I booked the balcony room, but it didn’t. So, naturally I started poking around the Carnival website. I discovered that on some Carnival ships, a few of the “interior” rooms actually have windows. The Category 4J interior rooms have a big picture window with a “secret” deck in front. Check out this video. That’s a game changer for me.

So, I decided to book a cruise on the Carnival Vista out of Galveston next summer for just me and my daughter. The itinerary includes two new-to-us destinations, Honduras and Belize. Because it leaves out of Texas, no flights are required.

Belize. Photo by Alisa Matthews on Unsplash

The Grand Total

Don’t ask how much money all of this is costing us. I don’t even want to see it in writing. The biggest price tags are the Disney Wish and Odyssey of the Seas cruises because all 5 of us are sailing.

Over the five cruises, I am visiting a total of 20 different ports, 17 islands, 13 countries plus two separate European cities before/after the cruise. That’s a lot of bang for our buck! Especially since cruising includes food and lodging. I will be on a cruise ship for a total of 30 days during 2023!

Outside of these cruises, we have no other trips planned for next year. I do anticipate our travel will slow down once my son goes to college.

You know that saying “Strike while the iron is hot?” That’s how I feel about travel these days. While I’m healthy, while there’s no pandemic lockdowns, while there are “free” cruise offers on the table, I will travel.

How does my family travel so much? We use miles and points from credit card bonuses. See my Travel Hacking 101 post as well as current credit card offers here.

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